Who is included in Phase 2 for vaccinations? More details on Kansas’ current plan

photo by: Kansas Department of Health and Environment

This chart shows Kansas vaccination phases by population.

Phase 2 of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s five-phase COVID-19 vaccination plan is expected to begin later this month or in February, and more details have been released about who will be eligible to receive a shot in this phase.

As the Journal-World has reported, Phase 1, which began in mid-December, includes health care workers, residents in long-term care facilities and workers critical to pandemic response continuity. Phase 2 will include people ages 65 and older, high-contact critical workers and those living in congregate settings. A KDHE document called the Vaccine Prioritization Plan defines high-contact critical workers and examples of congregate settings.

High-contact critical workers perform jobs necessary to maintain systems, assets and activities that are vital to state or national security, the economy or public health, the KDHE document states. According to the Vaccine Prioritization Plan, they include:

• Firefighters, police officers, other first responders and corrections officers

• Grocery store workers and food service employees

• K-12 education employees and child care workers

• Food processing employees

• Workers at large-scale aviation manufacturing plants

• Transportation workers

High-contact critical workers also include employees in the following industries, if they regularly need to be in high-risk settings to perform their duties:

• Retail, warehouse and sales outlet employees

• Workers in the agriculture industry

• Suppliers of critical services or materials for the COVID-19 response

• U.S. Postal Service employees

• Department of Motor Vehicles employees

KDHE spokesperson Kristi Zears did not respond to a question about whether these examples were exhaustive. The document labels them as “examples of groups included” and does not indicate whether there could be more groups that were not named.

KDHE defines congregate settings as facilities that provide social or health care services and that don’t allow for social distancing. Examples include:

• Homeless shelters or other facilities that house homeless people

• Congregate child care institutions and adult and child protective services

• Emergency shelters or safe houses for victims of domestic violence

• Corrections facilities, including jails and juvenile justice facilities

• Behavioral health institutions and residential treatment centers

• Adult care homes and senior living homes

Home caregivers and personal care aides also qualify as people living in congregate settings, according to the document. Zears said students residing in dormitories on public university campuses would not be included in Phase 2.

When asked whether the entire state must finish Phase 1 vaccinations before any counties can move on to Phase 2, Zears said that although the state guidelines were “designed to ensure access to the highest-risk population groups first, they will provide flexibility for providers on the frontline.

“As we move into Phase Two, counties will have the ability to flex depending on their own local supply of vaccine, the number of at-risk individuals in their community, and local circumstances,” she wrote.

Zears did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about whether certain counties could move on to new phases while others were in previous phases.

Dan Partridge, the leader of the local health department, said that the state and counties intended to move from one phase to the next at the same time. However, he also said that “it may or may not happen, due to factors such as local logistics and circumstance, especially in not wanting to waste potential doses of the vaccine.” He said the health department would continue to communicate with the state through the process and relay new information to the public.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health spokesperson George Diepenbrock said the health department, LMH Health and Heartland Community Health Center were all working diligently to vaccinate those who qualified under Phase 1.

“For those Douglas County residents who would be eligible under Phase 2, the best thing right now (would be) to register for the alerts at dgcoks.org/emalerts, which offers alerts by phone, email and text,” he wrote in an email to the Journal-World. “We will use those alerts to communicate instructions on how to sign up in the future.”

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